The World Economic Forum’s recent annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, featured a lot of discussion about a fourth industrial revolution which they say will see technologies like big data, the Internet of Things, robotics and artificial intelligence combine to drive a surge in what the WEF calls extreme automation and extreme connectivity. To the WEF, extreme automation means robots and algorithms learning and making decisions, and extreme connectivity means pervasive, close-to-instant communications.
This UBS white paper outlines the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on both society and economies. One of its main conclusions is that the key to capitalizing on this shift is flexibility. At the level of national economies, the winners will be those countries that can best adjust labor assets, educational systems, and be fluid with needed legal environments. At the level of individual companies, the same types of issues apply to company assets. Can the company innovate within the framework of its business? Can it adapt and retrain employees to manage and augment ever-increasing automation? Can corporate assets be quickly reassembled to capture market opportunities?
Stop me if this is starting to sound familiar: more real-time data sharing that delivers strategic new solutions to the market, driving the need for an agile infrastructure.
Achieving that kind of agility is the primary reason that our clients choose Solace. You can’t build next-generation applications on yesterday’s infrastructure. If you’ve ever done a kitchen remodel, you know one of the first steps is usually to upgrade the electrical panel. The one that felt like overkill when your house was built 50 years ago can’t handle the number of circuits needed by modern appliances. It’s the same for companies as they embrace automation, big data, cloud and IoT. The information sharing infrastructure they put in place for ERP in the 90s can’t handle what they’re facing now, and forward-looking companies are proactively upgrading their infrastructure so they’re not constrained as they build far more demanding applications on top.
I don’t think it really matters if we’re about to hit a tipping point or are just moving along the natural, continuous evolution of technological sophistication, because there’s no question that extreme automation and connectivity are driving new market dynamics, enabling new business models and demanding increased agility and flexibility.